Authorship and First-Person Allegory in Late Medieval France and England

Authorship and First-Person Allegory in Late Medieval France and England

Stephanie A. Viereck Gibbs Kamath





An examination of medieval vernacular allegories, across a number of languages, offers a new idea of what authorship meant in the late middle ages.
The emergence of vernacular allegories in the middle ages, recounted by a first-person narrator-protagonist, invites both abstract and specific interpretations of the author's role, since the protagonist who claims to compose the narrative also directs the reader to interpret such claims. Moreover, the specific attributes of the narrator-protagonist bring greater attention to individual identity. But as the actual authors of the allegories also adapted elements found in each other's works, their shared literary tradition unites differing perspectives: the most celebrated French first-person allegory, the erotic Roman de la Rose, quickly inspired an allegorical trilogy of spiritual pilgrimage narratives by Guillaume de Deguileville. English authors sought recognition for their own literary activity through adaptation and translation from a tradition inspired by both allegories.
This account examines Deguileville's underexplored allegory before tracing the tradition's importance to the English authors Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Hoccleve, and John Lydgate, with particular attention to the mediating influence of French authors, including Christine de Pizan and Laurent de Premierfait. Through comparative analysis of the late medieval authors who shaped French and English literary canons, it reveals the seminal, communal model of vernacular authorship established by the tradition of first-person allegory.

Stephanie A. Viereck Gibbs Kamath is Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.


May 2012
226 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843843139
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
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Table of Contents

"Comment ot nom": Allegory and Authorship in the Roman de la Rose and the Pèlerinage de la Vie Humaine
"What so myn auctour mente": Allegory and Authorship in Geoffrey Chaucer's Dreams
"Thereof was I noon auctor": Allegory and Thomas Hoccleve's Authority
Verba Translatoris: Allegory and John Lydgate's Literary Tradition


Communicates nuanced insights through an impressively accessible interdisciplinary framework. COMITATUS 44

(A) stimulating study. FRENCH STUDIES

(An) illuminating study (...) (This work) constitutes an important addition to recent studies of medieval allegorical literature, as well as a very welcome reassessment of medieval English reading and writing practices as they relate to those of their French predecessors and contemporaries. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

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